Land Acquisitions | Public Relations

Prairie Island Indian Community dispels 'racist' casino rumors




The Prairie Island Indian Community hosted its Wacipi Celebration from July 8-10, 2016. Photo from Facebook

The Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota has no plans for a casino at a newly acquired site but rumors continue to hinder the tribe's outreach efforts.

The tribe recently purchased a 112-acre site in West Lakeland Township for housing and other development. A group called Citizens Advocating Responsible Government claims a casino is in the works and has been circulating a flier against such a development.

"This is very offensive and racist," President Shelley Buck said of the effort at a public meeting last Thursday, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

The tribe has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the land into trust. The site is about 30 miles from the existing Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Generally, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars gaming on land acquired after 1988. Section 20 outlines a handful of exceptions but the tribe does not appear to qualify for any of them.

The tribe, for example, is not newly federally recognized nor has it been recently restored to federal recognition. The tribe does not appear to be arguing that the new site was acquired in connection with a land claim settlement either.

That would appear to leave just one option for a potential casino -- the lengthy and cumbersome two-part determination process. That would require approval by the state governor in addition to the BIA.

Two-part determinations are extremely rare. Between 1988 and 2012, only three tribes were successful in opening casinos after completing both steps of the process.

Since 2012, four tribes -- two in California, one in Oklahoma and one in Washington -- have completed both steps of the process .Of those, only the Kaw Nation in Oklahoma has successfully opened a casino. The other three projects are in still in development.

The Prairie Island Indian Community bought the new site as part of efforts to establish new homeland. The tribe's reservation sits next to a nuclear power facility where highly radioactive waste is stored just 600 yards from the border.

Read More on the Story:
Casino or no casino? Question haunts West Lakeland meeting (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 10/15)
Prairie Island leaders say anti-casino literature ‘racist’ (Minnesota Public Radio 10/17)

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